Album Reviews

Owen Pallet – In Conflict – Album Review

In Conflict

One name stood out from the others involved in Owen Pallet’s new album, that of Brian Eno. Eno is listed as playing synth, guitar and vocals on the album, which is something of a surprise. It’s an unusual role for someone at Eno’s level to be another session musician, but what effect if any Eno has it is difficult to say. Pallet has used more synth on this album and many of the back drops of the songs, the gurgling and emissions that fill the space would be reminiscent of Eno. Whether he had any impact on this, or it is just the direction Pallet was headed anyway, it’s difficult to tell.

There are tracks such as ‘Song for Five and Six’ that are synth heaven, with wave after wave of attack. Other tracks are closer to orchestral in form, as there are string sections carry the bulk of the work. There is vast variation in sound in the album, but the production is such that it holds it all together and makes it feel cohesive. There’s a clean and crisp feel to the release, that unifies all.

Pallet’s voice is the usual delicate instrument and his high vocal range carries throughout. In tracks like ‘I am not afraid’ the lyric content –

‘I’ll never have any children, I’d bear them and eat them, my children. I’m gonna change my body in the light and the shadow of suspicion.’

At first listen, you’d expect  this opening statement to be the view of a young gay man, but according to Pallet it is more complex ‘I did not want the aggressive statement of ‘I’ll never have any children’ to be ascribed upon a specific gender. I deliberately kept the aggressive sentiments of this song spread out over a variety of voices; self, other, various gender states.’ [1]

There is an ethereal feel about many of the tracks, like this is what is played in the waiting rooms of heaven! There a couple of tracks that jar this assumption, and songs like The Riverbed wake you from this sense of ease. It’s a welcome change and the loud drum and wall of strings add to the drama. ‘Infernal Fantasy‘ starts with synths before expanding into a larger sound complete with choir, making for an epic conclusion.

This is Owen Pallet’s fourth album, and possibly his most complex and assured.  The downside of this is that it is possibly not as accessible as what went before. While it may take a bit more work to enjoy the sound, it’s worth the effort.

In Conflict is released on May 27th by Domino Records

You can hear a stream of the album here.

Track List:
01. I Am Not Afraid
02. In Conflict
03. On A Path
04. Song for Five & Six
05. The Secret Seven
06. Chorale
07. The Passions
08. The Sky Behind The Flag
09. —> (1)
10. The Riverbed
11. Infernal Fantasy
12. Soldiers Rock
13. —> (2)

Owen Pallett
Matt Smith – bass, vocals
Rob Gordon – percussion
Brian Eno – synth, guitar, vocals
Daniela Gesundheit – vocals
Stef Schneider – percussion
Soul Sisters Supreme Redux Vs. 2.0 – vocals
Thomas Gill – guitar
Czech FILMharmonic Orchestra

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